The Rival Iraqi Jewish Clans Who Changed the Face of Shanghai » Discussions


The Rival Iraqi Jewish Clans Who Changed the Face of Shanghai

  • Leader
    August 12, 2020

    The chefs were French, the managers Swiss, the jazz musicians American. In the 1930s, the Majestic was Asia’s most luxurious hotel. The world’s high and mighty would stop over in Shanghai just to spend a night there. International celebrities made the gleaming hotel a regular stop on their trips to the region.To get more latest Shanghai news, you can visit shine news official website.


    But then another hotel – the Cathay – was built in the city, and overnight the Majestic became a second-class place. In the Cathay the carpets were brought in from France, the rugs from Japan, the armchairs from India.


    Crystal chandeliers adorned the corridors, and a spectacular mosaic ceiling welcomed guests in the lobby. The Cathay was “one of the most luxurious hostelries in the world, rivaling the best in Manhattan,” Fortune magazine gushed in 1935. The battle between the two luxury hotels embodied the rivalry between their proprietors: two wealthy families that both managed economic empires in Shanghai. They also had something else in common: Their roots were in the Jewish community of Baghdad.


    The Sassoon and Kadoorie families were two dynasties, linked by blood ties, who had immigrated to China a century earlier and established flourishing businesses. They owned prestigious buildings and controlled a wide range of industries – from gas and infrastructures to banks, a casino and, in the case of one of them, also the local opium trade. They transformed Shanghai into an international mecca of tourism, commerce and leisure during the interwar period. They changed the face of the city – and of China. The Sassoons and the Kadoories “played an important role in opening China to the world,” says journalist and writer Jonathan Kaufman, whose newly published book, “The Last Kings of Shanghai,” tells the story of the two families. “In the 1920s and 1930s,” Kaufman writes, “middle-class and wealthy Chinese flocked to Shanghai, drawn by economic opportunity and a life unavailable anywhere else in China: glamorous department stores, hotels, nightclubs, gambling casinos.


    ” The city the Sassoons and the Kadoories helped to shape “inspired and enabled a generation of Chinese businessmen to be successful capitalists and entrepreneurs.” Kaufman, a former reporter and editor for the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, and currently director of the Northeastern University School of Journalism, spent six years working on the book, traveling the globe to pore through archives, and speak to relatives, acquaintances and Chinese government officials, to trace the history of the two families.


    Ultimately, the fate of each of them was very different. The Sassoons suffered a painful fall, lost most of its fortune in the communist revolution and left China, and abandoned the business world. The Kadoories fled to Hong Kong, rebuilt themselves and emerged stronger than ever in terms of both wealth and influence. The family maintained its status on the mainland over the years, in part by cultivating ties with the communist regime and refraining from criticizing it in public. “Your family has always been a friend to China,” a senior aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping is quoted as telling Michael Kadoorie, the present head of the family. Amid the multiple revolutions that modern China has experienced, the Kadoories always made a point of treading carefully in order to preserve their standing.


    As China opened up to the world – in interwar Shanghai, in Hong Kong under British rule and across China, following the establishment of relations with the West in the late 1970s – they flourished, becoming the richest Western family in the country. Their ongoing success is in large measure a barometer of China’s overall receptiveness to the world. Today, with the surge of Chinese nationalism and the deterioration of the political situation in Hong Kong, the family’s future faces a new test.

  • November 27, 2020

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  • Jul 5
    It is really good knowing that the hotel’s owners could share such a rich heritage. My friend and I were actually on the internet looking for opportunities where we could pay someone to write my dissertation UK-based. But he just showed me because he happens to be from shanghai and adores sharing about his country and its specialties. It is more than a year living with him and it is safe to say I can roam around shanghai very easily now. Haha!

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